"The whole of Germany must throw itself on one enemy - the strongest, most powerful, most dangerous enemy, and that can only be the Anglo-French... Austria's fate will be decided not on the Bug but on the Seine." Alfred von Schlieffen
Was the Great War inevitable? Did the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo necessarily lead to a world war? Or was it an "improbable" war, which broke out due to a set of misunderstandings and judgement errors? Rusconi describes the feverish and intense political and diplomatic activity of July 1914 and examines war events up to the crucial Battle of the Marne. The fighting was essentially a "German war", waged to break the siege to which Germany was subject at the hands of the Triple Entente linking Russia, France and Great Britain. But the war for continental hegemony was also a "war of civilization" within the West itself. The armed conflict's consequences would be enduring, even in strategic and military terms: World War II began in 1940 with an attack on France, intended as a repetition and revenge for 1914.
Gian Enrico Rusconi formerly taught Political Science at the University of Turin.